China debuted a new naval destroyer this week as it celebrated the 70th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.
During a parade of their military assets aired on state television on Tuesday, China unveiled the 10,000-ton Nanchang (101), a Type 055 stealth destroyer, Reuters reported.
Chinese President Xi Jinping oversaw the reveal, calling to officers aboard the ship, “Salute to you, comrades. Comrades, thanks for your hard work.”
“Hail to you, chairman,” they called back. “Serve the people.”
Nanchang was launched in 2017, but began sea trials in Sept. 2018. Some experts have said that China publicly unveiling the destroyer is an indication that it’s combat ready.
The destroyer demonstrates China’s most recent efforts to significantly upgrade its military capabilities. especially its naval strategy which also plans to add six more aircraft carriers to its fleet by 2035, four of which will be nuclear-powered, South China Morning Post reported in February.
The new destroyer is equipped with 112 vertical-launch cells capable of “HHQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles, and CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles,” Business Insider reported.
The U.S. Arleigh Burke-class of destroyers has 96 launch cells.
Further, the destroyer uses radar bands that can track stealth vessels.
China has three other Type 055 destroyers undergoing sea trials and intends to deploy them as heavily armed escort ships for China’s upcoming six aircraft carriers.
The destroyer debuted among 32 vessels and 39 aircraft, including what China said was new nuclear submarines, although experts surmised that the submarines were upgraded existing submarines.
Chinese President and Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping boards the destroyer Xining and reviews the PLA Navy vessel fleet at the #Navy70Years parade in E China’s Qingdao April 23, which marks the 70th anniversary of China’s PLA Navy. #ChinaNavy70 pic.twitter.com/KCT6Pu1SIH
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) April 23, 2019
“It does appear that this is a modified version rather than an entirely new submarine, something which would have been a more significant development,” said Collin Koh, of Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
The Pentagon believes that China’s new ballistic missile submarines will begin construction in the 2020s.
Warships from 13 of China’s allies were also present in the military parade.
Xi had directed the PLA to develop modern equipment by 2035, and projected to see the force as a top global power by 2050.
However, Xi maintains that their development is peaceful, and called on allies to follow the same notion of peace and mutual respect.
“The Chinese people love and long for peace, and will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development,” Xi said. “Everyone should respect each other, treat each other as equals, enhance mutual trust, strengthen maritime dialogue and exchanges, and deepen pragmatic cooperation between navies,” he added.